Prior to joining SoftBank Investment Advisers, Andrew led corporate development and strategy for Airbnb. He is a past investor with Luxor Capital Group and was a private equity analyst with The Blackstone Group. He holds a degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
What got you interested in finance?
I've always been interested in what makes the world tick. That’s what investing offers: you get to dig into all kinds of businesses and understand how they work. I joined Blackstone right out of college, and among other things I helped take SeaWorld public, which was a huge thing for me, as a Florida native. Working on a project like that, you get to see how everything fits together, from the big public promotions to the janitorial services. Suddenly this brand I'd grown up with revealed itself to me in a completely different way.
What qualities do you look for in a founder?
I look for passion and a personal connection. Take Tempo, for example. Its founder moved from Egypt to New York City, and ended up learning about fitness and personal training at his neighborhood YMCA. His fitness journey helped change his life, and now he's bringing that experience to as many people as possible with a smart home-training system. Or look at Tony Xu, the CEO of DoorDash. He grew up working in his parents' restaurant, and he built DoorDash to be a restaurateur's platform. He has that deep empathy for restaurants, and that's why his business has grown so much faster than the competition.
What do you hope to bring to the founders you work with?
I offer support with context and connections. As a global investing platform, we have colleagues working in every major region. That means we can provide the context needed to help a founder think through how to localize a product or service before they expand into a new market. Or maybe we see something that's taking off in China, and we help a U.S.-based company get ahead of the ball in their existing market. Then there are the connections—the network of other founders who are ready to share insights or build partnerships. That peer support is incredibly powerful.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned so far in your career?
Pay attention to your relationships. I've been really fortunate that my last two jobs began when former colleagues reached out to me and said that they wanted to work with me again. I can't tell you how much that means to me, because I have come to prioritize relationships built on trust and respect above all else. That guides my investment philosophy, as well. I need to be able to trust any potential partner and have faith in their integrity, and I need to know that I've earned their trust in return. Without that foundation, you're really not going to get any work done.
What's something that surprises people about you?
I am on a lifelong quest for the perfect slice of pizza. It started early in my college days. With the pandemic, I had to make the switch to making pizzas at home, but when I travel, the first thing I do is research the pizza opportunities. I remember the first time I traveled to Tokyo after joining SoftBank Investment Advisers, I headed out for pizza as soon as I had a free moment. I had watched David Chang's Ugly Delicious documentary series, and there was an episode on the best pizza in Tokyo, so I knew exactly where I wanted to go. You may not associate Tokyo with pizza, but I'm here to tell you, Savoy in Roppongi was worth the trip.